Mozambique: Palaeontologists discover dinosaurs for the first time

Mozambican palaeontologists have discovered and studied dinosaurs for the first time in their country, as part of a cooperation project with the Instituto Superior Técnico in Lisbon, involving Portuguese researchers, they said on Thursday.

“For the first time, Mozambican master students conducted research, which resulted in the publication of their first scientific article,” the Portuguese palaeontologist Ricardo Araújo, of the University of Lisbon’s Higher Technical Institute, told Lusa.

He said that they are creating the first generation of Mozambican palaeontologists, which is already producing scientific results.

Ricardo Araújo, South African Iyara Maharaj, American Kenneth Angielczyk and Mozambicans Zanildo Macungo, Nelson Nhamutole, Sheila Zunguza and Nelson Mugabe are the authors of the scientific paper that has now been published in the Journal of African Earth Sciences.

In the exploration and excavation campaigns of the PaleoMoz project in the middle of the African savannah, in Niassa province, researchers discovered two species of ‘dicynodonts Endothiodon’, herbivorous dinosaurs ancestors of mammals that lived 259 million years ago, during the Permian era.

“Endothiodons are relatively rare dinosaurs,” Araújo said.

The team found the first ‘Endothiodon bathystoma’ in Mozambique and the second worldwide, after Tanzania.

The ‘Endothiodon Tolani’ was known in Mozambique since 1975, after Portuguese discoveries.

“The two species were not expected to coexist in the same basin and the same place,” said Ricardo Araújo.

The two species are “very complete”, with bones from throughout the animals’ bodies, while until now, of the species already known to the international scientific community, only the skull had been found.

The greater variety of fossils allowed palaeontologists to know the genus better and obtain more anatomical and palaeobiological information.

The PaleoMoz project results from a cooperation between the Instituto Superior Técnico and two Mozambican institutions, the National Museum of Geology and the Eduardo Mondlane University.

The project is funded by the Aga Khan Foundation, the Foundation for Science and Technology and the National Geographic Society.